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You are looking at a preview of what’s in the timed Missouri Boat Ed Course. Feel free to look around, but you’ll need to register to begin progress toward getting your Missouri Boating Safety Certification Card.

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All vessels must be equipped with USCG–approved personal flotation devices (PFDs), sometimes called life jackets. The quantity and type depend on the length of your vessel and the number of people on board and/or being towed. Each PFD must be in good condition, be the proper size for the intended wearer, and very importantly, be readily accessible! Readily accessible means you must be able to put the PFD on in a reasonable amount of time in an emergency (vessel sinking, on fire, etc.). PFDs should not be stowed in plastic bags or in locked or closed compartments, and they should not have other gear stowed on top of them.

Vessel operators should ask everyone on their vessel to wear a PFD whenever on the water. PFDs can save lives, but only if they are worn!

Boater’s Tip

An emergency situation (rough water, rapid onset of bad weather, or dangerous boating traffic) can occur suddenly—leaving little or no time to put on PFDs. PFDs are very difficult to put on once you are in the water. Be a smart boater, and have everyone on board your vessel wear their PFDs at all times.

Video: Missouri PFD Carriage Requirements

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Video Transcript

Everybody needs to have a life jacket. People know about the importance of that. There’s a lot of different types, though. Fill me in on what we need to know as far as life jackets go.

Officer Inman

Every boat in Missouri has to have a personal flotation device—a life jacket—on board for everybody. It’s important that that life jacket fits that person. It’s based on body weight and chest size, and that can be found on the label inside that life jacket. These wearable life jackets like you have here, that is a non-inflatable life jacket. Those are required for personal watercraft, Jet Skis and WaveRunners, because they don’t rely on inflation. Those are the most reliable, most simple life jackets that one can use.

This is an inflatable. This is really good for anglers and people who require more mobility. This takes away the excuses—I don’t wear one because it’s hot, or I don’t wear one because it’s uncomfortable. These are great substitutes for those. But there’s still a time that these are required.

Also, every boat has to have a throwable cushion on board if the boat’s over 16 feet in length. This can also be a life ring, but this has to be readily accessible, available to anybody in the boat to be able to grab this and throw this into the water. If someone were to find themselves in the water, this gives them something to hold onto.


This is pretty simple. A life jacket for everybody on board, plus one of these if you have a bigger boat.

Officer Inman

Plus. And they need to be serviceable, and they need to fit.


Simple. Thanks.